MAROUA, Cameroon

While many extremist terror groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS/Daesh have largely faded from the world scene, their African counterpart, Boko Haram continues to wreak havoc in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.

Founded in 2002, the group has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions from their homes, according to the Global Terrorism Index.

More intriguingly, while the West hunted down Al-Qaeda and ISIS/Daesh, there seems no such campaign against this dreaded terror group haunting Africa.

Over 3.4 million people have been displaced, including over 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northeastern Nigeria, over 684,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and 294,000 refugees in the four countries, according to the UNHCR.

So far in 2020, the terror organization has struck nine times across Africa killing around 330 people.

On March 23, in a deadly attack in Boma, Chad, the group is believed to have killed 92 soldiers. On June 9, terrorists belonging to Boko Haram attacked Gubio village in Borno state, in northeastern Nigeria killing 81 civilians.

Tracing the activities of Boko Haram, Didier Badjeck, former military spokesperson of Cameroon told Anadolu Agency that the group has developed underground and networks and sleeper cells.

“The issue of Boko Haram’s violence is continuing and looks some powers are behind, who want the conflict to continue. In addition to this, porous borders and economic decline in this particular area create a favorable environment for terrorism,” he said.

He further said the issue of terrorism was asymmetrical, which cannot be defeated only by using security means. “It needs socio-economic responses and also as long as big countries are talking to other small countries scornfully, we will not be able to find real solutions to terrorism,” Badjeck added.

Boko Haram launched a bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, before expanding its attacks to neighboring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, prompting a military response.

Terror group grows like octopus

A former Cameroonian military official alluded that the group gets quite active when elections are around in Nigeria.

“We notice that Boko Haram’s operability intensity is variable according to the current political situation in Nigeria. Every time we get closer to the election there is an intensity. But when the elections are over these groups also live and just small raids are conducted here and there,” he said.

Denying that Boko Haram’s active presence was because of the retreat of Cameroonian defense forces, Badjeck, however, said there was a need to strengthen operational capabilities.

Praising the role of Cameroonian soldiers, Parfait Kari, the founder of the Cameroonian Association of Terrorism Victims (TVAC) said they have sanitized many areas form the terror group.

“Previously, it was impossible to travel peacefully in risk areas. Unfortunately, there are still some attacks especially since the terrorist group has become an octopus recruiting terrorists from other groups,” he said.

Kari survived an attack by Boko Haram in 2014 but lost three of his colleagues in Waza, a city in the far north. He is disabled in his right hand because of a bullet. His organization wants people to understand that victims of terrorism are not victims of ordinary accidents.

According to Zambo Regis Gael, a Cameroonian humanitarian worker, the researcher on civilian responses to terrorist situations said the victims feel neglected because of negligible support from the state.

He regretted while there is policy to rehabilitate former terrorists and are trained in skills, through the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (CNDDR), there is no such effort for their victims.

“There is a sense that violent extremism is being rewarded with this program. The victims must also be considered. If we want a just society, we have to think about justice and equity policies,” said Zambo.

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